#3. The Greyhound that Created the Church of England
Even if you know nothing of history, you probably know Henry VIII as the guy who kept beheading his wives when they refused to bear him sons. He is also responsible for one of the most important events in the history of Christianity, when he broke from the Catholic Church and formed the Church of England. According to psychology professor, Stanly Coren, none of it might have happened if it had not been for one over-protective dog.
At the time, Henry VIII had been boning Catherine of Aragon. But, noticing an alarmingly low number of sons spawning from her cooch, he lamented all this time wasted on sex (when drinking was possible) and brought some fresh booty to the court, Anne Boleyn. He decided to make her a permanent addition to his royal bedchamber.
"Alright. Let's see what YOUR vagina can do."
The problem? This pesky Catholicism bit which is so uncool about the whole adultery-divorce thing. When Henry requested a divorce from Pope Clement VII, he sent his trusted Cardinal Wolsley to negotiate the deal.
The story goes that during the meeting it looked like the Pope would give an OK for Henry to put his dick in Anne's Christmas Pudding. But Wolsey had, for some reason, brought his greyhound, Urian, along. When it came time for Wolsley to kiss the Pope's foot, as was the custom back then, his dog suddenly perked up and saw what he thought was some flamboyantly-dressed man about to kick his master in the head. The dog jumped at the Holy Father and bit him.
Greyhounds hate Popes.
Clement was furious, ending the meeting and refusing the divorce. Henry would break ties with Rome over the incident, and the whole English Reformation followed.
#2. The Horse Who Cured Diphtheria and Reformed Medicine
Jim was a milk wagon horse who lived between the late 19th and early 20th century and, at one point, seemed to have had contracted diphtheria. His owner was ready to take him out back and send him to that beautiful farm up North where grandma and mommy's lover went last week, but something unheard of happened: Jim got better.
It looked like he had somehow developed antibodies for the disease, and researchers used him to create large quantities of diphtheria antitoxin that saved who knows how many lives. But he wasn't done making his massive and accidental impact on the world of medicine.
In 1901, Jim contracted tetanus. This was bad for him, as it meant it was time for him to be shipped to the glue factory once and for all. But it was even worse news for 13 patients who were injected with Jim-brand diphtheria antitoxin that had been extracted after he got tetanus. This resulted in all of their deaths. That, doubled with a smallpox outbreak killing nine people, was enough to make the world wake up and realize maybe somebody should be checking this shit ahead of time.
Ma'am, trust me; I know what I am doing. This untested horse medicine will make your baby feel all better.
So someone stood up and said, "Guys, call me crazy, but how about we start setting up some... standards, for stuff we put into our bodies, eh?" Seeing as it was 1902, the man was probably beaten heavily and placed in an asylum, but the idea became popular and resulted in the passing of the Biologics Control Act, which established the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which itself set the stage for the formation of the freaking FDA.
So now, when the government tells you that you cannot inject that liquid possum scrotum into your urethra, you will know to blame Jim.
#1. The Pig Who Gave Us The Dark Knight
We're not saying everyone in Hollywood is some kind of eccentric freak. All we're saying is that for years George Clooney had a 300-pound Vietnamese black bristled potbellied pig that sometimes slept in his bed.
Max the Star, as he was called, often took part in interviews and in 2006 even took a ride on John Travolta's private jet, where he presumably tried to convert it to Scientology. But if Clooney can be believed, if we didn't have Max the Pig, we wouldn't have George Clooney the actor.
Back in January of 1994, when Clooney had Max but did not have stardom (ER would come later that year), a strong earthquake struck L.A., killing around 60 people and injuring thousands more.
Clooney has said in numerous interviews that he was in bed with Max that morning, and that the pig, sensing the earthquake before the humans (earthquakes are apparently very similar to truffles in this regard) nuzzled his master awake. Clooney says this was the only reason he was able to get out of the building in time, and that Max saved his life. Now you feel bad for judging him for sleeping with a huge pig. Naked.
Anyway, if it hadn't been for Max, Clooney would never have gone on to become a superstar. He would never have wound up in a nippled Batsuit and for all we know, Batman and Robin wouldn't have gotten made at all.
Thus there would have been no need to reboot the franchise with Batman Begins and of course, The Dark Knight. Clooney, meanwhile, would have been known only as a "nameless man found nude with pig in earthquake aftermath" in the "News of the Weird" column of USA Today.
While not writing for Cracked, you can find Cezary at DrownYourself.com.
For more historical animals, check out 7 Badass Animals Presidents Have Kept As Pets and 7 Ridiculous Cases Where Animals Were Put On Trial.
And stop by Cracked.com's Top Picks to see our office cat playing with some yarn.